Follow-up default in a hospital-based universal newborn hearing screening programme in a low-income country

B O Olusanya
Child: Care, Health and Development 2009, 35 (2): 190-8

BACKGROUND: Effective early detection of infants with permanent hearing impairment requires parental compliance with various stages of a screening protocol. However, many infants who failed initial screening tests are often not presented for follow-up evaluation, thus compromising prospects for early detection and intervention. This study set out to determine maternal and infant factors associated with loss to follow-up in a hospital-based universal hearing screening programme in a low-income country.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study in which babies in a tertiary maternity hospital were enrolled into a two-stage hearing screening programme with transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions followed by automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) for all transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions referrals before hospital discharge. Diagnostic evaluation was scheduled for AABR referrals on outpatient basis. Correlates of non-compliance were determined through multivariable logistic regression analyses of relevant maternal and infant factors.

RESULTS: Some 1330 babies participated in the first-stage screening and of 551 scheduled for AABR; 56 (10.2%) did not complete. Some 37 (84.1%) of the 44 AABR referrals did not complete the diagnostic evaluation. There were no significant differences between the profile of those who did not complete either the second-stage screening or diagnostic evaluation and those who completed across virtually all socio-demographic factors except that Christian mothers were significantly more likely not to complete the second-stage screening than diagnostic evaluation compared with their Muslim counterparts (odds ratio: 3.01; 95% confidence intervals: 1.17-7.87). The only independent predictors of non-compliance with pre-discharge screening were delivery by spontaneous vertex (odds ratio: 2.76; 95% confidence intervals: 1.47-5.19) and admission into special care baby unit (odds ratio: 5.62; 95% confidence intervals: 2.92-10.84) while no factor was predictive of non-compliance with diagnostic evaluation.

CONCLUSIONS: Mode of delivery or having high-risk baby influences compliance before hospital discharge while factors other than maternal or infant socio-demographic/medical profile such as unfavourable cultural beliefs and stigma may be key determinants of follow-up compliance after discharge.

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